Ophelea, "Out There"


Permalink 16:04:20, by Ophelea
Categories: Press, MMO, Children

The Media Annoy Me

I'm at the hospital with one of my headaches. Some just don't react to medication and the stuff at the hospital works much better. My son is with me - the older boy: 12 going on 40. He stays to watch over me.

The nurse who is giving me medication asks what I do; I tell her; she asks about it because she has a son who would be interested (they always have a son that would be interested!) and I give her my card. Then it begins...

"But I won't let him play online at all. He can play whatever game he likes just not online." Hrm, ok, I'll let the "whatever" comment go for the moment.

I steel myself and reply. "Do you mean Xbox Live or PC games? What don't you let him play online?" I ask. My son is sitting next to me listening but bored. He's heard this conversation a few times.

"Oh, I won't let him play online at all. Especially those MOMO games. I'm too afraid of predators and he's only 13." *sigh* Yeah for the media.

I'm getting loopy because she's been pumping meds into my IV this entire time and I feel like I'm talking through cotton.

"Well... I wouldn't let him use voice on Xbox Live but you could let him play. Voice though - it's just too profane. But I can't think of any reason he couldn't play most MMOs online. He's just typing."

"Don't you worry about whether someone will ask to meet him at the park or something!!" It could be the meds or she could be shrill, I can't tell at this point. The room is spinning.

"Well, no. It's rather like being at the park, isn't it? I mean, you teach him if he befriends someone at the park and they ask him to come home with them he should say no or ask you first. It's the same online - teach him the skills he needs. Say no, or I have to ask my mom or report it to abuse or hit ignore... It's just like the park or school or anywhere, really."

She's looking at me sideways. I know I'm loopy and all but she is looking at me sideways. I don't know if I've gotten through to her.

Damn media blows everything out of proportion.

She starts to ask my son about his online experiences just as I pass out. At least I have nothing to worry about there.


Permalink 23:35:01, by Ophelea
Categories: Musings, MMO, Children, Online

Why is it games are bad again?

I'm sitting in the car on the way to the movies this evening when my younger son says to me, "Mom, why do we charge more for millions of dollars?" I love non-sequiturs that wouldn't make sense ever. I ask to what he is referring.

"You know how when you make a little money we charge a little bit and when you make more we charge more?" Yeah, I wasn't getting it either. After teasing some specificity out of my boy, I come to realize he's asking about a Progressive Tax. Ok, fair'nuff. I explain the idea behind it - those with more carry more of the burden because those with less simply can't. I tell him that it's a way of forcing people to help their neighbors because people aren't particularly good about helping their neighbors.

I think we're done. Nope.

"So, your money at the bank, do you get paid for that?" Huh. More specificity, please! Some more discussion and it's obvious he asking me if I earn interest at the bank. Then he wants to know about yearly interest, daily compounded interest and I'm wondering what the heck is going on? I mean, he's 9 - he's in the fourth grade.

"Have you been studying this at school?" I ask.

"No. I've been playing Neopets."

Why exactly aren't games good for kids again?


Permalink 17:10:30, by Ophelea
Categories: MMO

I'm Considering Divorcing My MMOG

My son is 11-years old and has discovered Pen & Paper RPGs. He’s even started with D&D. I suppose I should be proud. I remember, in 1976, drawing dungeons on graph paper for the boy next door. I graduated to MMOGs with Asheron’s Call in 1999. He started with Asheron’s Call in 2000 – earning his first 2 Cub Scout belt loops for Computers and Chess. He played Chess in Asheron’s Call. It is a story I tell often. Like mother like son?

I have, in some way or another, been involved in RPGs all of my life. When I gave up rolling characters I provided beer and pizza and a comfortable place for the guys whose girlfriends “didn’t get it”. Sometimes, I’d sit in and run a character if someone was missing. I liked MUDs, but simply didn’t have the time to devote to the experience. I knew early on that once I started down that virtual path, I would be forever lost.

We, of this “grande” community are not as large as one might suppose. Same said 11-year old wants to be DM for the first time. Mom wants to be a kleptomaniac bard. (He so hates me *grins*.) When discussing all of the really wonderful ways to mess with a DM that exist, a friend - in England, over Skype – said it was “just like Eric and the Dread Gazebo.” Apparently, I’d missed this one.

Apocryphal, I know. I didn’t know an internet legend of a story. That is, until he started reading it to me...

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Permalink 17:20:38, by Ophelea
Categories: Musings

I Enjoyed 2007

As I sit here, waiting for my children to awaken (it's 11am!), I consider making New Year's Resolutions. I've never been one for personal much less public traditions, but I've reached the ripe old age of 36 considering changing a few habits may be prudent.

Perhaps blogging more often than every 7-8 weeks ...

Broadening my original topic beyond gaming journalism would help. I can't help but look back upon 2007, It only ended some 11 hours ago for me and I still have a rather large pile of games left on my floor, my couch, my desk and strewn throughout my bedroom, that I'd intended to review before the year vanished into memory. Life continues to intervene and slow the best of intentions but what strikes me is how truly good the games of 2007 were - and I played only a smattering of them.

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Permalink 16:52:54, by Ophelea
Categories: Press, Consumers

The "Reviews are Broken" Argument

Convergence is happening again/still/ad infinitum. Psychochild pointed me to a post on Slashdot last week about game reviews being broken; this post is based upon an editorial on Kotaku which discusses game reviews being broken primarily from the point of scoring and worth the money.

Gee, really? (Self-aggrandizement off.)

Convergence. While all of this yapping was occurring, I was noticing a few things myself:

After reviewing a game I adored and was particularly proud of the review, I sent the link to a friend. His response? (verbatim)

"i had a hard time getting into it. i dunno why. :( i kinda think being paid for reviews and being rushed on them is making gaming less enjoyable for me. i had to can the review for it since it wouldn't have been timely." What's timely? "2 weeks after release, though 1 is preferred. we have to rush with the reviews."
(This site buys all of their titles retail; they receive nothing pre-launch.)


Three PR companies were pushing particularly hard for PC previews. These were for games of medium-sized publishers and it is unlike any of the people at the companies to push like this. So I asked why?

PRRep: both IGN and GamesRadar have both said flat out they don't have the manpower to cover [said vendor's] games. this is a growing trend with PC games, by the way with titles that are not AAA or multiplatform releases. it's insanity
OpheleaLC: but there are so many of "me"
PRRep: unfortunately, no
OpheleaLC: what happened to the b-list sites? and honestly, my problem? they spend their advertising money on ign and gamesradar so that we struggle....
PRRep: a lot of the b-listers don't cover PC anymore
OpheleaLC: wow, that's insane and that explains why I have so much PC
PRRep: yep!

Nice, again. And not the first time I've heard this concern about PC titles. Not even the second or third…

GamersInfo.net makes it a point to cover children's titles - in homes with children. During the holiday season we are overwhelmed. But, something common with children's titles is you must ask for them. Why? Direct from the mouth of PR:

"Well, we don't really want a hard-core gaming site to give a good kid's game a bad review score, simply because they don't "get" the audience, KWIM? It likely won't have all the elements that hard-core gamers want, and therefore a perfectly great family game will get a bad score ;)"

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Permalink 00:00:18, by Ophelea
Categories: MMO

From Big Countries Come Fragile Dragons

Considering the amount of time I spend playing games, reading about games, researching games, talking about games and discussing game design and the industry I find it disconcerting that I write so little about the actual games! I do a fair amount of previews and interviews, and when all of the planets align just right on the third Tuesday of the fifth month of the Gregorian Calendar, I get to write a review...but most of my work is behind the scenes and verbal. I like my job. I learn a lot. I teach others and through teaching learn even more.

Recently, my work and personal life have collided rather suddenly and I find myself comparing the culture of the US with every other culture of the world rather frequently. This can be difficult as the only other culture I have first-hand knowledge of is British; I have first-hand knowledge of immigrated Latinos and a litany of Asians and - regardless of Homer Simpson’s proclamation that Canada is “America Jr.” - I am keenly aware that it is very different indeed.

Games are expensive. It doesn’t take a PhD in mathematics to see that an online component extends the monetary value of a game: episodic content = additional dollars. Unless you’ve browsed to this site and blog from a cave you know this and have probably experienced it through the now ubiquitous downloadable content on Xbox Live.

When designed with downloadable content in mind, I like what this does for my gaming experience. In theory, my game should become cleaner, more polished and less expensive. If a game is received well and earns enough to cover its initial design cost, the player is rewarded with more game. In theory again, those games that do best should offset the cost of downloadable content for marginal games – those games for which downloadable content would turn a barely profitable game into a very profitable game.

Design is key. Until very recently, the sector of the industry with the most experience in this area was massively multiplayer games. And this is where the design and culture begin to show glaring differences.

Better get a cup of coffee and prepare for a long one...

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Permalink 23:14:14, by Ophelea
Categories: Musings, Press

Where are all the editors?

Until this editorial started brewing in this brain of mine, I’d carefully been avoiding public statements about the state of E3 this year. I have many reasons: I’ve not yet completed our coverage; this year was such a departure I am not comfortable making comparisons when I think the changes are still a work in progress; I think that much of what has been said has been said and said and said...

But, as I was doing research to fact check an article by a staff writer I encountered a small preview on a very large site – ok, the largest – that just made me stop. Literally stop.

I wondered. Where was the editor? This may take some explaining.

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Permalink 14:59:37, by Ophelea
Categories: Behavior, Online

Shirking Our Responsibilties

Those who know me find me infuriating at times. I love to argue. Not in the common sense of the word. But the true definition: to consider the pros and cons of: DISCUSS (argue an issue). This is my high – it’s how I learn best. Many would call me stubborn but in actuality I’m quite pliable, you just have to argue your point well so that I can learn from you. Then give me time to mull it over.

This means I have no fear of confrontation.

Fear of confrontation baffles me. So many “bad” things happen because people simply don’t say, “no, you can’t do that”. The odd thing is, if it were a child behaving badly – even one not your own – a person usually doesn’t hesitate with a “no!” But an adult behaving badly? We look the other way.

Me, not so much.

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Permalink 10:15:40, by Ophelea
Categories: Press, Consumers

What Do You Want?

Wow, it’s been a while. I’ve had blogs in my head but no time to get them down in type. You see, I’ve been travelling – a lot.

This year’s changes in E3 have prompted the publishing houses and developers to run many smaller events where we, the press, get hands-on time with products. In many ways, this is a good thing. I enjoy having more time with each product at an earlier stage; I enjoy having time to talk about the product for more than 20 minutes before being pushed on to something so different I’ve forgotten what I just saw; I especially enjoy having the opportunity to take the product home and play with it before proffering an opinion. Now isn’t that novel?

But, I’ve seen so many games recently it’s like E3 all over again. I’m rarely home. The costs are extraordinary. GamersInfo is a Tier 2 site – we don’t have corporate sponsorship. We depend on the views generated by readers to generate ad views to keep us afloat. Otherwise? We don’t exist. That’s what most sites are – Tier 2. This constant traveling is rough.

But that’s not what this blog is about. I have a question (well, this is me, I have many questions) for you, dear reader.

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Permalink 20:45:18, by Ophelea
Categories: Musings, Behavior

Legitimacy: Chicken, or Egg?

I have a good friend, a game designer of 20 years who often tells the anecdote, “I tell my mother I’m a crack dealer so she’ll understand because it seems so much more understandable and respectable than saying I make games for a living.” In a previous blog entry I stated the following: Computers have always been a part of my life. I've been working with gaming support sites for 7 years; I've been in the Games Press for five. My mom said to me, "now that you're into this, what will we have to talk about?" Apparently, I've mutated beyond human.

There’s a legitimacy issue in games.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re aware of it even if you’ve never voiced it to yourself. More than once you’ll have had to justify to someone why it’s important to you that you play a video game for your fun; why you’d rather not go outside on a nice sunny day but sit inside and get to the next level; that really, you’ve learned something from playing games as opposed to killing multiple brain cells.

Movies are a legitimate form of entertainment media. Television is a legitimate form of entertainment media. Books have always been a legitimate form of entertainment media.

Comic books are more than 60 years old. They are not.

But wait?! You can make a movie based on a graphic novel (admit it, it’s a big comic book) and it’s a legitimate form of entertainment media. The original media? Still not legitimate.

In the last three weeks I’ve attended four press events/conferences/seminars or had the opportunity to talk to game developers. And something struck me as odd: more than once they were asking creators of other media to approve their game design.

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  • Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking. - Goethe
  • He who can take no great interest in what is small will take false interest in what is great. - Ruskin
  • We don't know who discovered water, but we know it wasn't the fish. - McLuhan


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